The new government, which is struggling to stabilize Ukraine’s finances and failing economy, got encouraging news Friday from the International Monetary Fund, which said that economic assistance was on the way.
“I am positively impressed with the authorities’ determination, sense of responsibility and commitment to an agenda of economic reform and transparency, Reza Moghadam, the IMF’s European Department director, said in a statement after a two-day visit. “The IMF stands ready to help the people of Ukraine.”
The referendum on Crimea’s status will be conducted with what Crimean leaders have said are more than 11,000 pro-Russian forces in the region. The troops control all access to the peninsula and have blockaded all Ukrainian military bases that haven’t yet surrendered.
Russia has denied that its forces are active in Crimea, describing the troops who wear green uniforms without insignia as local “self-defense forces.” But many of the troops, who are armed with advanced heavy weaponry, are being transported by vehicles with Russian license plates.
Hoping to pressure Russia to roll back its military presence, the U.S. imposed financial sanctions and travel bans on Russians and other opponents of the new Kiev government on Thursday. The European Union suspended talks with Russia on a wide-ranging economic agreement and on granting Russian citizens visa-free travel to the 28-nation bloc, a long-standing Russian objective.
With a solitary Ukrainian athlete taking part in the opening ceremony, Putin opened the Winter Paralympics in Sochi yesterday against the backdrop of his country’s military action in Crimea.